There’s no such thing as a free lunch….  This adage is over 50 years old, and the Office of Inspector General for Health & Human Services (OIG) wants to remind doctors that it remains true.

The pharmaceutical and medical device industry continues to woo doctors with invitations to educational speaker programs in high-end restaurants, with golf excursions, or at sporting venues.  On Monday, November 16, the OIG issued a new Special Fraud Alert to remind doctors that speaker programs sponsored by pharmaceutical and medical device companies must serve a legitimate educational purpose and must be appropriately tailored to meet a need in the medical community.

The Open Payments Act requires pharmaceutical and medical device companies to report their spending on entertainment.  According to Open Payments data, cumulative doctor payments in the three years from 2017-2019 exceeded $2 billion, and the OIG emphasized that this high amount of spending, and its potential to influence the prescribing or ordering habits of targeted physicians, was one of the reasons for this new alert.


Continue Reading There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

On August 4, 2020, the Office of Inspector General of Health & Human Services (OIG) used a new website resource to share informal guidance on the ability of laboratories to provide free COVID-19 antibody testing to Medicare beneficiaries.  For the specific situation, the requestors indicated that the clinical lab would provide free COVID-19 antibody testing to patients—including federal healthcare program beneficiaries—in conjunction with other medically necessary blood tests performed by the lab.  The lab indicated that it would not charge any patient or other payors for the COVID-19 antibody tests offered in conjunction with other paid lab tests.  The requestors also indicated that the purpose of the arrangement had a public health focus as it was intended to increase patient awareness of antibodies to promote donations of COVID-19 blood plasma, which can be used for certain experimental convalescent plasma therapy treatments for COVID-19.

Continue Reading OIG Approves Free COVID-19 Antibody Testing for Medicare Beneficiaries